New Jersey Boy Scouts

August 17, 1999

Frankly, I was caught off guard by the recent ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court concerning homosexuals and the Boy Scouts. Until that ruling, the Boy Scout ban on enrolling homosexuals or atheists had been upheld in every state where it was challenged. The New Jersey ruling changed all that.

The court ruled that "To recognize Boy Scoutsí First Amendment claim would be tantamount to tolerating the expulsion of an individual solely because of his status as a homosexual -- an act of discrimination unprotected by the First Amendment freedom of speech." The court also rejected the idea that the Boy Scouts were a private organization and ruled that scouting organizations are "public accommodations" under New Jersey law because they invite broad participation and benefit from relationships with governments.

The case will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and may indeed be struck down. But for the moment, there are some ominous implications about this ruling.

First, the case strengthens the notion that government can dictate how to operate a private, non-profit organization. The Boy Scouts hold dear such values as honesty, integrity, and moral purity. Former Scout leader James Dale, who brought the suit, is a homosexual who arranges health fairs for a magazine that focuses on HIV and AIDS issues. According to this ruling, the Boy Scouts cannot make a moral judgement about a homosexual Scout leader.

Second, the case sends the message that homosexuals are a minority that needs protection by the government. This was not a case of a black or Hispanic Scout leader who was asked to leave because of his race. This is a case of a homosexual Scout leader being asked to leave because of his known sexual practices. Only time will tell whether this ruling with be upheld or overturned.

Iím Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and thatís my opinion.

© 1999 Probe Ministries International